For Lady Benedicta Solomon Etegyit, a 77-year-old grandmother, her 23 days in the hands of kidnappers was a harrowing one, which for many years, would remain with with her.
Reliving her ordeal in the hands of kidnappers, the septuagenarian told the Akwa Ibom High Court, Ikot Ekpene Judicial Division, of how she was quietly enjoying her retirement from public service at her home in Uruk Obong 1, Ekpenyong Atai 2, in Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state, when the kidnappers struck.
“When they arrived and tried to take me, I shouted and my niece, Victoria Sunday Udo, who was in another room, came out, but she was helpless because there was little she could do to challenge them,” she said.
The heavily-armed masked men, she explained, blindfolded and took her to an unknown destination.
“I was taken along for several kilometres, and at a particular point in the journey, the car broke down and I was taken into the bush under the rain and forced to sit on a damp ground.
“At that point, I was made to listen to the sound of a flowing river. They told me I would be shot and thrown into the river if I failed to cooperate.
“They requested for the phone number of my eldest son and I quickly gave it to them. They called and threatened to kill me and bundle me into the river if the ransom of N15 million was not paid within a stipulated time.
“After that, I was taken out of the bush and put on a motorcycle. One of the kidnappers sat behind me and we travelled another long distance to their den.
“Before they veered off the road into their den, I saw a sign post with an inscription: ‘Local Government Hospital,’ but I could not capture the name of the area because I was partially blindfolded.
“In their den, I was kept in a two-room apartment. The room was completely dark and I remained there for three weeks and two days. Occasionally, different persons would come to extract information from me.
“Throughout the period, I was only fed with cucumber, garden eggs, cream cracker biscuits and chilled water.
“I remained there until operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) stormed the place and rescued me. They took me to their headquarters in Uyo, where my children, relations and other family members were already waiting for me.”
The trial judge, Chief Ntong Festus Ntong, adjourned the case till May 12.
He asked the plaintiff to appear on the next adjourned date for more testaments on the matter before the final determination.